Oktoberfest : Welcome the Autumn Harvest
It’s funny. It seems that as soon as September hits the nights immediately get colder and if I plan to be outside after 7pm I’d better bring a jacket. As the leaves start to change from their lush green to a lovely mosaic of crimson and copper so does the beer in my glass. Historically speaking, fall was the beer making time of year. This makes total sense since that’s when one of the main ingredients in beer — barley — is harvested; any excess grain would have been earmarked for the Brewmaster and sent for malting.
But before we can drink some fresh brews we have the onerous task of finishing up any leftover beer that may still be lying around. Cue Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest has been celebrated in Munich, Germany since 1810 and contrary to its name, the 16-day long beer celebration mostly takes place in September and wraps up the first Sunday in October. Customarily the beer of choice was the Marzen or March Beer and could only be produced by a brewery in Munich (those outside the city limits can make an “Oktoberfest-style” beer). The Marzen was brewed from late September until late April for consumption during the summer. During the summer, breweries usually didn’t brew as the air was full of bacteria and the temperature was too hot. The Marzen is a lager-style beer but usually has a richer golden colour and fuller body than most of the lagers we think of today. Any leftovers sitting around in the cellar are pulled out and drank at Oktoberfest to make space for — you guessed it, more beer.
For a beer drinker this is the best time of the year.
And for those who don’t live in Munich, we can also mark this time of year with some fresh new brews hitting the shelves of the LCBO. There are a number of lovely Oktoberfest-style beers and fall-inspired beers in the store right now. There are also a raft of pumpkin beers that are being released for a limited time as I write, and if you’ve never had one you should go and pick one up. Pair it with a nice slice of pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving dinner and you won’t be disappointed.
Though I drink lagers all year round, I have to say, here come the ales. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
Some beers to usher in Fall with:
Traditionalist – Hofbräuhaus Original
More than any other, Hofbräu Original embodies the special atmosphere of the beer-making capital of Munich, and exports it to the four corners of the globe. Its refreshing, bitter flavour and alcoholic content of around 5.1% volume have made it famous worldwide. A Munich beer with character.
Non-Conformist – Great Lakes Brewing Saison du Pump
This is Great Lakes Brewing’s Pumpkin Saison brewed with Saison Dupont yeast. A tasty blend of pumpkin spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger, and Belgian character with sufficient bready malt support. Dry with moderate bitterness and a long, spicy finish.
Local Craft – Black Oak Oaktoberfest
Celebrate the harvest season with Black Oak Brewing Company’s Oaktoberfest Beer, brewed using the traditional German style in Etobicoke. Its coppery colour and snappy carbonation combines with a crisp malt flavour that’s complimented by the right amount of hops, giving this fall seasonal beer a satisfying taste experience.
More Local Craft – Beau’s Nightmärzen Oktoberfest Lager
Märzen is the traditional Oktoberfest style of beer. This orangey-amber, malty beer has just the right amount of Noble hops to balance the Munich malts, and features an ultra clean finish to complete the package. You can celebrate the harvest and enjoy this beer at the annual Beau’s Oktoberfest, October 4–5.
Something Different – Big Rock Saaz Republic Pilz
SAAZ Republic Pilz is inspired by the creation of the first Pilsner beer created in Plzen, Bohemia in 1840. In an age when most beers marketed as Pilsners have little in common with the original, SAAZ Republic Pilz, with its distinct blend of authentic Czech Saaz hops and locally grown ingredients, is a traditional Pilsner that stays true to its European origins.
The Beer Guy